Friday, 26 May 2017

Headmaster's Weekly Notes - 26 May 2017

From the Headmaster 
What a scorcher of a day for Sports Day! Spirits were high as we processed up to the Elm Field - our four houses were in fine form singing with gusto the School Song, building team spirit. It was lovely to see so many parents there in support (thank you again to the PSA for staving off the dehydration). My personal thanks also go to the PE department for their meticulous organisation, to the Estates team, House staff, KDR, IT and of course the competitors, who battled hard but shook hands at the end. This time victory belonged to Golledge who won the prestigious West Midlands Relay Shield and the Track & Field competitions with Knight House winning the Macmillan Cancer Support Student – Staff Race. It was a fine way to round off this busy half term and a well-deserved break awaits our colleagues and students alike.

It has been a moving week as we marked a minute’s silence yesterday in respect for the victims of the Manchester Arena terrorist attack on Monday. We have been open in speaking to our students about how the news has affected them, but if you are anxious about doing so at home, you may find this information from the BBC helpful.

We welcome home our students from the China Exchange next Wednesday. To read more about their trip, please see here.

A moving Leavers’ assembly took place yesterday in the Sixth Form Centre and it was a fitting tribute to the maturity and diligence of this particular year group. They have been led admirably by Maximillian Kaberry, Victoria Regan and Francesca Llewellin, who have encapsulated all the qualities that make a Sexeian – all commented on the friendly nature and warm atmosphere of the school, the life skills they have learnt and the strong relationships they have built, which will last for many years to come. The Sixth Formers now immerse themselves in public exams after half term and we wish them well in their endeavours as they pursue coveted university places, gap years and internships come August. I thank them for the outstanding service they have given to the school – from music, art and drama productions, to a variety of sports teams and to the prefect body for setting the gold standard to the younger members of our community and keeping them on TRaK. Their skills in Car Pool Karaoke was also a revelation…

I wish you all a pleasant and peaceful half term break and look forward to welcoming you back into school on Monday 5th June (4th June for our returning boarders).

Monday, 22 May 2017

Headmaster's Weekly Notes - 19 May 2017

Summer exams started this week, with students taking part in breakfast and lunch revision clubs and The Sanctuary providing welcome relaxation. Our teachers can be seen poring over the papers in the break times, and the whole school is behind those are working so hard at this time.

Our extra-curricular activities provide welcome relief at these times and it was superb to hear our Sexey’s singing group perform so well at Roth Bar & Grill last weekend. Their fine voices certainly bode well for the whole school musical ‘Bugsy Malone’ in July. Tickets are already on sale in Reception; we do hope you can join us. Meanwhile, our sportsmen and women performed well in cricket, rounders, equestrian and tennis fixtures played this week against Ansford, Dauntsey’s School and Huish Episcopi Academy, and the athletics Track and Field Cup meet at Millfield on Wednesday saw wins in the relays and sprints – congratulations to everyone involved.

We also had a very successful Boarding Open Morning last weekend and again thank you to all colleagues and the community who go over and beyond to support us in our endeavours. It was an excellent opportunity to show our future students what they can achieve at Sexey’s, and to provide an update on all that we have been doing recently in Boarding. Feedback was extremely positive, and our existing parents may also be interested to read the latest updates to the Boarding and Academic Action Plans here and here respectively. As always, we welcome any questions or comments on these.

As I write, final preparations are being made for the China Exchange trip, which departs tomorrow to Beijing. We wish them the very best of journeys, a fruitful visit, and a safe return.  

祝你一个平静轻松的周 (I wish you a peaceful and relaxing weekend).

Monday, 15 May 2017

Headmaster's Weekly Notes - 12 May 2017

Whatever your political view, it is hard to be anything other than impressed by the fact that a person with drive and a vision for change could be elected French President only a year after starting his own political movement, En Marche. It is this level of passion with which we aim to enthuse our students and the coming week’s activities encourages me of our success. Continuing the political theme, we were pleased to welcome the Liberal Democrat prospective candidate for Somerton and Frome into school on Thursday to speak to our Sixth Form Government & Politics students on the democratic process. Engaging the next generation in the current political debate is important to us as a school and we encourage those Sixth Formers who are eligible to do so to register to vote in June.

The film festival this weekend at Hauser & Wirth includes Youth Cinema Foundation’s ‘Strange Magic’, written and directed by Sexey’s Sixth Former Megan O’Neil and involving several of our students. I would encourage you to get your complimentary ticket and support their enthusiasm and endeavour.

It is a season of school trips. This morning saw a group of our Year 8 Gifted and Talented students in the school car en route to The Salters’ Institute of Chemistry at the University of Bristol for a day’s competition with other schools in the South West, solving chemical challenges. More on this on our news section of the website shortly. Next weekend 15 students will be visiting our partner school Yueyang No.2 Middle School, China for over a week, working alongside Chinese students and visiting Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall of China and Ming Tombs among other sights. What a fantastic opportunity.

The summer sports season is in full swing with cricket, rounders and tennis matches played this week against Ansford, King Arthur’s, Millfield, Clayesmore, and Huish Episcopi Academy. Don’t forget the Sexey's School Sports dedicated site for more details of fixtures. Best of luck to students participating in the equestrian events this weekend and we look forward to welcoming you all at Sports Day on Friday 26th May, if not before.

We wish all our Y11 and 6th form the very best in their public exams which continue to gather pace next week.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Headmaster's Weekly Notes - 5 May 2017

Although a short week (though this is a long time in politics!), we have seen much activity in school as we returned from the first of our May bank holidays. GCSE Art and Spanish students have embarked on their exams and I commend all of our students for their thoughtfulness in keeping a respectful air for their peers who are mid-revision at this time. Next week our Key Stage 3 students will take their internal exams and we wish them all the very best of luck for them.

The Sports Department has been as busy as ever with cricket and rounders fixtures played against Holyrood Academy, Millfield School and The Gryphon this week. A special congratulations goes to Sixth Former Georgia Silcox who became Somerset Schools’ Senior Heptathlon Champion at the Somerset Schools’ Combined Events Championships on Monday. A tremendous achievement on all accounts.

Next weekend we see off our latest Duke of Edinburgh practitioners on their Bronze practice expedition to Cranborne Chase. We add our thanks to those flooding in from around the world in praise of Prince Philip as he announced yesterday that he is stepping back from public office this year, in particular for his inspirational work with the DofE award scheme. Thanks in large part to the team of teachers led by Mrs Wilkinson, who give up their time in support of the scheme, we are proud to be one of the largest providers in the South West. Students from Year 10 onwards are given the opportunity to participate in the scheme, which is widely recognised by colleges, universities and employers and has been popular with Sexey’s students for many years. Success in the award brings many challenges but also many rewards for participants in exchange for commitment, hard work and determination. To read our news story from the latest award ceremony for our successful students, please click the link here:  

On Saturday 13th May we also hold our Boarding Open Morning and thank all of our parents for spreading the word and encouraging any families in your network that might be interested in our school to register on the school website and join us at 10am in Macmillan House.

Yesterday’s local elections took place and I hope that our students will continue to keep abreast on what is happening in politics both here and around the world, especially with the French going to polls this Sunday.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Headmaster's Weekly Notes - 28 April 2017

As tensions rise on the political battlefield both here and across the Channel, we spoke at Sixth Form assembly this week about the recent French elections and how this will have an impact on the UK and Brexit. There is so much uncertainty that it is difficult to navigate politics currently and it's the next generation of leaders (our students) that will need to be equipped with the right tools in order to do so. Their thoughtful comments make me optimistic for the future.

Sticking with the Sixth Form, as a Gifted & Talented venture, our G&T and PE departments recently secured the opportunity for six of our talented Year 11 PE students to experience a Sports Psychology programme with Dr Barry Cripps, a registered Sport and Exercise Psychologist with notable clients such as The Met Office, The British Olympic Association, and the High Performance Unit at the University of Exeter. The aim of the programme was to help the students gain a better insight and understanding of their talents and to coach them in ways that would help them with their performance, including relaxation techniques, confidence, concentration, goal setting strategies and practising mental rehearsal. And speaking of goal setting, our Sixth Formers also arranged a school fundraiser for Dorothy House Hospice, raising important funds for this special charity, which cares for people of all ages, from all walks of life with life-limiting illnesses and is this year celebrating its 40th birthday.  The event, held in the sixth form games session, was a sports day style event with three-legged and sack races and a fancy dress obstacle course. Well done to all those involved.

As I type, final preparations are being made for the 5km Race for Life in support of Cancer Research on the Elm Field. Thank you to everyone who has joined us for this fantastic charitable event which has been organised by our Deputy Head Girl, Lucy Febrey. Just like the image of one marathon runner helping another in the final metres of that gruelling race, I hope we at school will continue to go out of our way to support those in need.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Headmaster's Weekly Notes - 21 April 2017

Welcome back to the start of the new summer term – a term traditionally when courses culminate in the taking of public exams, cricket, rounders and athletics form the major sports and the sun is supposed to shine – and unfortunately it isn’t. It’s good to be back at school and to get back into the swing of things after the Easter holidays and although the school is now in summer mode with regards uniform, the weather certainly doesn’t reflect that and it is forecast to get slightly colder. Please see below the school’s expectations with regards the summer dress code.

This weekend, thousands are donning their running shoes to take part in the London Marathon. Its Charity of the Year, Heads Together, aims to end the stigma around mental health and enable young people to talk freely about their issues and concerns. In school this week, we once again welcomed the Samaritans, who have been coming to talk to the whole school about ways in which our students can strengthen their emotional and mental wellbeing (this week they addressed Y10). They have also spent time with our Year 11s, providing them with tips and advice on dealing with examination and revision stress. Leaflets following those sessions are available in The Sanctuary or from Mrs Nurse.

Getting active is of course one very good way to improve mental health and I look forward to welcoming as many as possible to our own running event, the 5km Race for Life, at the Elm Field next Friday.  Meanwhile, our huge congratulations also go to the Year 8 Netball team who became County Champions after a gruelling final at Millfield yesterday – well done girls!

Staying on TRaK (Tolerance, Respect & Kindness) continues to be our drive this term with preparation for public examinations fully underway (the KS3 Summer exams take place early next month), and it is important that our students remain fully engaged and focussed. The pace and intensity has been relentless since we got back and I have been impressed with students’ work ethic, independence of thought and positive attitude in and around school, including the boarding houses, and I commend them for their sterling efforts.

With the PM calling a General Election on the 8th of June, which has caught many by surprise, the question of education funding still remains a hot topic of debate and I hope that the new Government, whatever colour it may be, puts education at the heart of its manifesto and will address this crucial area so that the futures of our children are protected and that schools up and down the country are not forced to take decisions that will ultimately harm the nature and ethos of what we are trying to do – provide our students with an all-round, holistic education that will give them the necessary skills to prepare them for the future.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 17 March 2017

Article 50, constitutional challenges between England and Scotland and school funding are dominating the news and the latter is of particular concern to us.  The National Funding Formula in its current format is going to see every school in England experience budget cuts before 2020 which will inevitably harm standards in schools up and down the country. Despite this, we continue trying to provide the best opportunities we can for your children and this week has been no exception.  I’d like to thank all of the parents and guardians who took the time to attend our forums on Wednesday and Friday last week.  They were challenging but ultimately productive sessions in which you raised some clear areas in which we could improve in our communication with you.  We have spent this week reflecting on the necessary actions to address the concerns that you voiced and as a result, we will be writing to you in due course with regards bullying, the use of Moodle and explaining the other specific actions that will be included in a summary of the sessions.  Thank you also for your expressions of support during this process – they are very much appreciated and we will continue our hard work to do them justice.  Fundraising was another topic of the forums and I will write to you separately on this matter in due course once the formula has been debated in the House of Commons next week – as it stands it looks like the formula may well be rejected, but we have seen things go the other way in the past…

Sporting fixtures aside in rugby, netball and equestrian where our sportsmen and women have excelled, we have had the opportunity to celebrate British Science Week during tutor time and in lessons this week. Our successful Duke of Edinburgh applicants collected their certificates for Bronze, Silver and Gold awards at the DoE ceremony at the Octagon in Yeovil this week, and our congratulations go once again to them for their endeavours including that of Mrs Wilkinson and her team.  Meanwhile, while continuing with our improvement plans in light of Ofsted, we have met with our Parents & Staff Association (if you are willing to help here please do get in touch) and been preparing for next week’s lectures which will both challenge and inspire – from the award winning film maker, Jo Ruxton who will be talking about ‘Plastic Oceans’ next Tuesday evening to our TEDEd team of Sixth Formers giving a series of wide-ranging lectures including topics such as existentialism, child mortality, literacy rates, sustainability and education on the Wednesday evening.  I hope to see you there.